Peru’s new president emerges with military to consolidate power

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s first female president appeared in a military ceremony on national television Friday in her first official event as head of state, an attempt to consolidate her power and buck a national trend of early presidential departures.

In an indication of continued political hatred, some politicians were already calling for early elections and more protests were planned.

Dina Bolwarte was elevated by vice president to replace ousted leftist Pedro Castillo as the country’s leader on Wednesday. She said she should be allowed to hold office for the remaining 3 1/2 years of his term.

Bularte addressed members of the armed forces during a ceremony marking the historic battle. Bularte, flanked by leaders of the judiciary and Congress, sat among lawmakers who tried to remove Castillo from office.

“Our nation is strong and secure thanks to Peru’s armed forces, navy, air force and army,” Bularte told hundreds of members of the armed forces in Peru’s capital. “They give us a guarantee that we live in order, respecting the constitution, the rule of law, the balance of powers.

After being sworn in as president on Wednesday, Bolwarte called for a truce with lawmakers who fired Castillo for “permanent moral incapacity,” a clause in the constitution that experts say is so vague that it allows a president to be removed for almost any reason. It was also used to overthrow President Martin Vizcarra, who ruled from 2018-2020.

Peru has had six presidents in the past six years. Boluarte is a 60-year-old lawyer and political neophyte.

She quickly began to appear in public as Peru’s new head of state. She met with groups of conservative and liberal MPs at the presidential palace. Before that, she danced an Andean dance after watching a Roman Catholic procession of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

Analysts predicted a difficult road ahead for the new president.

Bolluarte’s government “will be very difficult, if not impossible,” said Jorge Aragon, a professor of political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

Former president Ollanta Humala, who ruled from 2011-2016, noted that the new leader was not involved in politics or government before becoming vice president.

“She doesn’t have the tools to govern,” Humala told N TV. He predicted that any truce with the Congress “will last a month or maybe more, but then the country’s big problems come to her.”

The governor of the Cusco region, Jean Paul Benavente, asked the new president to call an early vote, saying it would offer “a solution to the country’s political crisis.”

Small street demonstrations by Castillo’s supporters continued in the capital and other parts of Peru, including Tacabamba, the capital of the district closest to Castillo’s rural home. Protesters demanded the ousted leader’s release, rejected Bolwarte as president and called for Congress to be closed.

In Lima, protesters trying to reach the Congress building clashed with police who used batons and tear gas to push them back, and more protests were planned for Friday.

“The only thing left is the people. We have no authorities, we have nothing,” said Juana Ponce, one of the protesters this week. “This is a national shame. All these corrupt congressmen sold out. They betrayed our president, Pedro Castillo.

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